The Dutch Courtesan

‘Go your ways for an Apostata’: religion and inconstancy in The Dutch Courtesan

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    11m§1 In Act two, scene two of Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan, a distraught Franceschina turns on her bawd, Mary Faugh, exclaiming: ‘God’s sacrament, ten tousand divels take you! You ha’ brought mine love, mine honour, mine body, all to noting!’ (2.2.6-8).[1] For the audience, Franceschina’s distress is undercut by Freevill’s pre-emptive mocking: in the preceding scene, he has already declared to Malheureux, ‘The creature and I must grow off. By this time she has assuredly heard of my resolved marriage, and no question swears, “God’s sacrament, ten tousand divels!”’ (2.1.99-101). Freevill’s parody is fully realised: Franceschina repeats his terms word for word, and goes beyond them, adding the pathetic complaint of the wronged lover, but directing it not towards the man who has abandoned her, but towards her pimp. Yet Freevill’s imitation of the courtesan’s oaths is uneasy, framed as it is by his own opening and closing swear-words: ‘By heaven, I resign her freely …. I’ll resign, i’faith’ (2.1.98, 102).

    §2 Throughout The Dutch Courtesan, characters draw copiously and often vividly on the language of religious feeling, whether swearing inventive oaths, or drawing on the terms of confessional affiliation in the service of precise and illuminating entendre. Where editors and critics have glossed individual words and phrases (see, for instance, Richard Danson Brown on the Catholic and literary complexities of ‘damn’d beyond the works of supererogation’), it is the play’s repeated invocation of the Family of Love, an Anabaptist community inextricably linked with Holland and with London’s Dutch emigré communities in the English imagination, that has attracted most scholarly attention.[2]

    §3 As Christopher Marsh points out, in his book-length study of the English Family of Love, by the time Marston was writing, the lustful and concupiscent Familist had become ‘a popular figure on the London stage’, despite the stereotype’s distance from social and historical reality.[3] The satirical energy of Marston’s conflation of alleged Familist promiscuity with the spaces of the brothel (in 1.1 Freevill invites Malheureux, ‘Wilt go to the Family of Love’ to visit his erstwhile mistress) and of the Mulligrubs’ reeking tavern, seems to make the playwright himself a fit target for Crispinella’s laconic observation: ‘Troth, I never remember my beauty but as some men do religion – for controversy’s sake’ (3.1.126-7). Highlighting the vivid polemical and disputational tone of much early seventeenth-century writing about religion, Crispinella suggests that sincere faith is difficult to detect. As Beatrice tries, unsuccessfully, to punctuate Crispinella’s flow of wit with a serious proposal, ‘A motion, sister – ‘, her sister seizes upon ‘motion’ as a term for a puppet show, calling to mind the biblical histories that formed the subject of popular dramatic entertainments: will the show tell the story of ‘Ninevy, Julius Caesar, Jonas, or The Destruction of Jerusalem?’ (3.1.128-130). Even as Marston’s play dismisses religious theatre as vulgar and old-fashioned entertainment, its vocabulary thrives on, and gains many of its effects from, a resonant language of devils and damnation reminiscent of older forms of popular religious drama. Though Marston later underwent an unexpected conversion, ordained as a deacon on 24 September, 1609, and as a priest on 24 December,[4] the religious gibes and allusions that lend The Dutch Courtesan much of its distinctive linguistic force, do little to give audiences or readers a secure sense of either the play’s, or its author’s, settled religious convictions.

    §4 Indeed, I want to suggest, Marston’s drama is underpinned by a concern not for religious identity but for the instability of his characters’ religious affiliations, and the difficulty of securely marking religious difference. Religion, seen in these terms, parallels the inconstant operations of love and reveals the queasy adaptability of the early modern city. Whilst this essay remains attentive to the depiction of the Familists, and particularly to the slippery connections between Familism, religious hypocrisy, and commerce that structure much of the play, I want to address specifically the language of religious conversion and apostasy. Malheureux, for instance, is repeatedly troped as being changeable in religion. Having initially instructed the rigidly moral Malheureux to go to a ‘house of salvation’ (a brothel) to experience joys which will persuade him to ‘repent’ (1.1.144), Freevill reworks his jest into a more deeply felt accusation of inconstancy, telling Malheureux: ‘Go your ways for an apostata! I believe my cast garment must be let out in the seams for you, when all is done! (163-4)’. An apostate is a person who renounces their religion; it is the shadowy side of conversion, or conversion viewed from the perspective of the religious community which has been abandoned.

    §5 In a telling turn of phrase, the clear-eyed Crispinella scolds Caqueteur for his protestations as she tries to take the ring he has borrowed from Tysefew: ‘Nay, if you turn Protestant for such a toy -’ (3.1.156). Though the joke derives from Crispinella’s etymological literalism, the idea of ‘turning’ from one faith or confession to another was richly current in the turbulent religious landscape of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean period. In a 1562 epigram ‘Of turning’, for example, John Heywood asked:

    Wilt thou use turners craft still? ye by my trouth.
    Much thrift and most suretie in turners craft growth.
    Halfe turne or whole turne, where turners be turning.
    Turnying keepes turners from hangyng and burning.[5]

    Heywood’s epigram raises the spectre of ‘the surprisingly common phenomenon of serial conversion’, as well as the troubling and unknowable distance between ‘outward re-affiliation’ and genuine ‘moral regeneration’: why did believers convert, and how genuine was their change of heart?[6]

    §6 The quick-fire punning between Cocledemoy and Mary Faugh in Act 1.2 reveals something of the diversity of the English religious landscape, moving swiftly between Catholic ‘restitution’ and dietary habits, pagan ungodliness, and the Family of Love (1.2.8-20), whilst Freevill’s subsequent description of Franceschina as ‘my sometimes elected’ (1.2.89) brings Protestant and Puritan dispute into view. In 1616, the Venetian ambassador, Foscarini, commented on the variety of English religions, identifying twelve different parties: Jesuits, two groups of Catholics who swore loyalty to James I, four ‘of the religion of his Majesty’ (Protestant), two Puritan factions, and three parties who were (presumably in diverse ways) ‘indifferent’.[7] In his own third satire, published in 1598, Marston had already raised the spectre of religious inconstancy, equating it directly to the vice of hypocrisy, and running quickly through a laundry list of faiths in a way that renders each belief system radically equivalent:

    Shall Crispus with hipocrisie beguile,
    Holding a candle, to some fiend a vvhile?
    Now Iew, then Turke, then seeming Christian,
    Then Athiest, Papist, and straight puritan,
    Now nothing, any thing, euen what you list,
    So that some guilt may grease his greedy fist?[8]

    Along with his fellow playwrights, George Chapman and Ben Jonson, Marston also briefly sketched a still more diversely-populated religious landscape in the controversial Eastward hoe. The prison-keeper Woolfe boasts: ‘I haue had of all sorts of men i’the Kingdome, vnder my Keyes, & almost of all Religions i’the land, as Papist, Protestant, Paritane, Brownist, Anabaptist, Millenary, Family o’Loue, Iewe, Turke, Infidell, Atheist, Good Fellow, &c.’.[9]

    §7 The Familist innkeeper Mulligrub, whose religious affiliation has already been called into doubt by the range of goods he sells, also threatens to change church during the course of the play. In Act two, scene three, his wife complains, ‘Truth, husband, surely heaven is not pleased with our vocation [note the pun on the religious life]. We do wink at the sins of our people, our wines are Protestants, and – I speak it to my grief and to the burden of my conscience – we fry our fish with salt butter’ (2.3.7-10). The charge is of adulteration: the wine, like the Protestant religion, is not ‘pure’. To the trickster Cocledemoy’s apparently Protestant, and certainly nationalist, eyes, however, Mulligrub’s wines are not Protestant but Catholic, ‘the juice of the whore of Babylon. For whereas good ale, perrys, braggets, ciders, and metheglins was the true ancient British and Troyan drinks, you ha’ brought in Popish wines, Spanish wines, French wines … to the subversion, staggering, and sometimes overthrow of many a good Christian’ (5.3.104-110). ‘Staggering’ is a complex term, calling to mind most obviously the uneven steps of the drunkard, but also repeatedly used in this period as a term for uncertain conversion. Thus, in 1618, John Rogers lamented the many causes ‘of our staggering and going backward in religion and godlinesse’, while in 1648 the water-poet John Taylor lambasted ‘our wine-drunk, wrath-drunk, zeale-drunk, staggering times’.[10]

    §8 As Douglas Bruster notes, ‘Mulligrub’s sins are commercial’: the play insistently yokes together religious beliefs and commercial practices, whether innkeeping or prostitution.[11] Realising he has been gulled not once but twice by Cocledemoy, Mulligrub turns decisively from the rituals of religious life: ‘Come, let’s go hear some music; I will never more say my prayers. Let’s go hear some doleful music. Nay, if heaven forget to prosper knaves, I’ll go no more to the synagogue. Now I am discontented, I’ll turn sectary; that is fashion’ (3.3.152-156). Mulligrub’s decision to turn ‘sectary’ (to join a Puritan group) hints at the possibility that religious affiliation might rely more on fashion, or on circumstance, than on faith. In Thomas Dekker’s Seven deadly sins of London (1606), the relationship between insincere religion and city life is rendered vivid in an account of ‘the Politick Bankrupt’: ‘a Cameleon, that can put himself into all colours. Sometimes hee’s a Puritane, … and wrapping his crafty Serpents body in the cloake of Religion, he does those acts that would become none but a Diuell. Sometimes hee’s a Protestant, and deales iustly with all men, till he see his time, but in the end he turnes Turke [i.e. cheats those he deals with]’.[12] Religion offers a convenient means to effect commercial and self-interested transformations; profit and apparent conversion are tightly intertwined. The mercantile context of Dekker’s complaint is driven home by his assertion that ‘there is not any one of all the twelue [livery] Companies [London’s commercial guilds], in which (at one time or other) there are not those that haue forsaken their owne Hall, to be free of his’.

    §9 Both Mulligrub and Cocledemoy tie together religious difference and commercial dishonesty with the post-Reformation geography of a changing Europe; Mulligrub’s ‘salt butter’, for example, returns us to stereotypes of the buttery Hollander. The play returns repeatedly to the material histories of fashionable objects. As early as line 3 of Act one, scene one, Malheureux is identified by his ‘Spanish leather jerkin’, whilst the air of the Mulligrubs’ tavern is redolent with exotic tobacco and perfume.[13] To some extent, these foreign luxuries, sketched in lightly, but potentially vibrant in performance, suggest that nationality, like religion or trade, may be put on and off at will. Objects and national identity become interchangeable; running through his range of plausible accents, the disguised Cocledemoy reflects, ‘For my beard, my false hair; for my tongue – Spanish, Dutch, or Welsh? – no, a Northern barber!’ (2.1.206-207). Crispinella also brings to view a number of fashionable commodities: commenting on her own short stature, she notes that she is ‘pieced above and pieced beneath’ (3.1.109-10), reminding us both that she wears chopines, fashionable high cork shoes from Venice, and that she sports an elaborate headpiece. Her aversion to ‘any fellow that has but one nose on his face, and standing collar and skirts also lined with taffety sarcanet’ (3.1.12-14) further highlights the fashion for high starched ruffs, cuffs, and headpieces both on and off the early modern stage.

    §10 As Natasha Korda notes, ‘There is perhaps no icon of fashion more readily associated with the theater in Shakespeare’s time than the starched ruff’.[14] Korda’s observation comes in the context of a detailed analysis of stereotypes of Dutch immigrants on the English stage; she points out that previous criticism has accepted too readily the derogatory association between Dutch women and prostitution forged in early modern polemic as well as plays, and richly in evidence, of course, in The Dutch Courtesan.[15] Where certain forms of trade practice – most obviously the Mulligrubs’ dishonest dealings – are scrutinised through the terms of religious affiliation throughout Marston’s play, other labours are conspicuous by their absence. Immigrant – especially Dutch – women were known for their work in the textile industries, and especially for the manufacture and retail of fashionable ruffs and cuffs, as well as perukes and periwigs (the ‘false hair’ that Cocledemoy claps on to imitate a barber).[16] The work of these women was sometimes ‘decried as the “devil’s work”‘, and a range of popular prints show Dutch tirewomen surrounded by priapic devils as they tweak the fashionable costumes of the men and women they dress.[17] It is plausible, then, that the devils which throng on Franceschina’s lively tongue might, for a Jacobean audience, have worked as a subtle reminder of the ‘real’ commercial and economic activities of Dutch immigrant tirewomen, even as the play seeks to efface that work and establish women as sexual and religious, rather than as economic, threats.[18]

    §11 The stereotyped connection between European geography and changeable religion, as well as the connection between Familism, the tavern, and promiscuity, is driven home in a 1608 pamphlet by Henoch Clapham, which describes the adventures of an inconstant believer, Flyer, who changes his religion at each turn of his journey across Europe: ‘Next day I met with a Familist. Hee by his talke of Loue, Loue, and the beeing in Loue, and nothing but Loue, so preuayled; togither with his running glozing on Scripture, as I left all, to follow him, till I see his beeing in loue and lust, with Tannikin the Tapuster: which shamefull sight, made mee to bid, Fie on them all. And turning my face homewardes againe, I pluckt vp my feete, to Flushing I came, stayde the winde a while, had shipping readie, and to Grauesend I came in a few howers.[19] When his interlocutor, Mediocrity, asks confidently, ‘Then I hope, that you will returne againe to vnitie with our Church’ (i.e. recant his various conversions), Flyer responds with a yet more dramatic expansion of the religio-political landscape: ‘If I doe not so, I must turne Turke, for any thing I yet see’.

    §12 The spectre of ‘turning Turk’ also surfaces briefly in The Dutch Courtesan. As she berates Faugh, blaming the bawd for her seduction and abandonment by Freevill, Franceschina conjures for a fleeting moment the spectre of a dramatic religious transformation. Demanding ‘Vat sall become of mine poor flesh now?’, Franceschina concludes, ‘Mine body must turn Turk for twopence’ (2.2.42-46). In the period extending roughly from the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1558 to the death of Charles II in 1685, the relationship between England and the powerful Ottoman Empire was transformed.[20] No longer the exotic setting of Romance fiction, or the location of powerful cultural memories of the medieval Crusades, the Ottoman Empire expanded across North Africa, Western Asia, and much of Southeast Europe.

    §13 Britons, extending their own global interests through travel, trade, and international diplomacy, increasingly came into contact with the wealth and might of ‘the Turk’. As Nabil Matar points out, ‘Around the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa where Islam fused its Arab, Byzantine and Turkish legacies, Britons encountered a powerful religious and military civilization which viewed them as an inferior people with a false religion’.[21] In 1597, Giles Fletcher asserted that ‘the terror of their [i.e. the Ottomans’] name doth even now make the kings and princes of the West … to tremble and quake through the fear of their victorious forces’.[22] Barbary ships took English sailors prisoner, not only as they navigated the waters around Spain and North Africa, but, at least by the early seventeenth century, in daring raids that came as far as the Cornish coast. This contact was infused with the fear of religious difference and conversion: in 1609, William Biddulph explained that captured slaves would be sold at extortionate prices to other Christians, ‘but cheape to a Musslelman (as they call themselues) that is, true beleeuers. But if they cannot get their owne price for them, they will enforce them to turne Turks, and to serue them in all seruile labours as the Israelites did the Egyptians’.[23]

    §14 In 1580, Elizabeth I had entered into a formal association with the Ottoman Empire: a political move that scandalised many of her subjects, but led to the establishment of the Levant Company the following year. Rumours about the Ottoman court, and the alleged vices of Muslims were rife, circulating in ballads, onstage, and in travel narratives. The reality of Ottoman military and trading power was mixed with a growing awareness of the danger that English Christians did, on occasion, choose to embrace Islam, whether to escape captivity or pursue a lucrative career at the Ottoman court. Fletcher claimed that ‘Turks’ ‘do plot and deuise sundry wayes how to gaine them [Christians] to their faith. And many times when they see that no other means wil preuaile, then they will frame false accusations against them …. For there bee certaine of their Priests … who for a Ducat or some such small reward, wil swear a thousand vntruths, especially if it be to condemne a Christian: against whom they thinke it a great honour to forsweare themselues: because it may bee an occasion to make him forsake Christianity and to turne Turke’.[24] At the same time, Ottoman goods and fashions were sometimes perceived as a threat to native English manufacture. Even coffee, a seventeenth-century novelty, was seen as a ‘Mahometan gruel’, liable to make English drinkers ‘turn Turk’ [http://europeanconversionnarratives.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/coffee-and-conversion/]. Both religious controversialists and playwrights addressed this apparent threat, recognising the allure of Ottoman life and goods, even as they sought to ‘undermine this attraction’ through dramatic and moralising representations.[25]

    §15 At the moment Marston’s play was first performed and published, the military might of the Ottoman Empire, and the seductions of Islam, were prevalent in the English imagination. August 1600 had witnessed the arrival in London of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud, an Ambassador of the Moroccan King, whose embassy was aimed at creating an Anglo-Morrocan alliance against Catholic Spain. The same year saw the publication of Leo Africanus’s A geographical historie of Africa, written in the 1520s by a Muslim traveller who had converted to Catholicism in Rome,[26] whilst in 1603 Richard Knolles’s The general history of the Turkes drew together numerous existing accounts to craft the first history of the Ottoman Empire in English.[27] In the theatres, Lust’s dominion or the lascivious queen (1600), sometimes attributed to Thomas Dekker,  staged the Prince of Fez as a ruthless Machiavellian schemer, whilst in Thomas Heywood’s The Fair Maid of the West, Part I (probably first performed between 1597 and 1603), the feisty Bess, hearing a false report of her lover’s death, transforms herself from a tapster into a pirate, and is reunited with her betrothed in Fez, where her beauty and virtue ‘convert’ Mullisheg, King of Fez, into an admirer of her chaste charms.[28]

    §16 A year or so before Franceschina complained of her own impending conversion, English theatre audiences had witnessed the ‘noble moor’ Othello prepare to take arms against an Ottoman army, although the military threat was conveniently despatched during a violent storm between acts one and two. In Act two of Shakespeare’s play, however, as Daniel Vitkus notes, ‘the threat of Turkish aggression reappears in a new form, internalised and embodied by the Christian soldiers on Cyprus’,[29] whom Othello berates, demanding: ‘Are we turned Turks, and to ourselves do that / Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?’.[30] In the closing moments of the play, Othello famously stages the cultural divide at the root of his identity, commanding his Venetian audience:

                               Set you down this;
    And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
    Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk
    Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
    I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
    And smote him, thus. (N2r)

    Othello, like The Dutch Courtesan, could be described as a play about the allure and the dangers of marriage [http://www.dutchcourtesan.co.uk/marriage-the-dutch-courtesan/]. Equally, it is, like Marston’s, a play which forges a link between religious and romantic inconstancy. Suspecting Desdemona of adultery, Othello insists: ‘Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on, / And turn again’ (K2r), a phrase which, as several critics have noted yokes together the language of sexual action with that of apostasy or conversion.[31]

    §17 Thomas Dekker also makes the link between prostitution and ‘turning Turk’. In his The Honest Whore, part I, the play to which The Dutch Courtesan is sometimes claimed as a satirical riposte, the repentant prostitute Bellafront urges Hippolito to love her, begging: ‘Be greater then a king, saue not a body, / But from eternall shipwracke keepe a soule’. Hippolito instead urges her to remain constant in her turn from vice, suggesting that ‘‘tis damnation, / If you turne turke againe, oh doe it not’.[32] Jane Hwang Degenhardt has registered ‘the stage’s unique tendency to link Christian-Muslim conversion to interfaith sexual attraction and intercourse’, arguing that Muslim men are routinely represented as predators, and Muslim women as dangerous seductresses.[33] Degenhardt further suggests that where some plays allow Christian men to succumb to temptation, and be redeemed (along with their converting Muslim partner), Christian women routinely have their chastity preserved through miracle and divine intervention.[34] Bellafront and Franceschina suggest a different dynamic, in which the threat of religious change is performed on English soil, and rooted in the sexual practices of the figurative apostate.

    §18 In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (1600), Beatrice too is accused of ‘turning Turk’. Suggesting that Beatrice has converted from an enemy of love into its apostle, Margaret playfully asserts, ‘Wel, and you be not turnde Turke, theres no more sayling by the starre’.[35] In Marston, though, the energies are consistently darker: Franceschina’s passing reference to her own probable conversion suggests a specific link between ‘turning Turk’ and sexual practices that were coded as illicit or degraded. The Harem was a source of intense fascination for European writers, and Muslim women were frequently represented as being ‘deceptive, adulterous, and sexually voracious’.[36] Most particularly, ‘turning Turk’ was associated not only with lust but with sodomy: in Robert Daborne’s A christian turn’d Turk (1612), Ward (a fictionalised version of the real-life pirate and convert, John Ward), is mocked by the Jewish Rabshake after his conversion, prompted by his passion for the Ottoman princess Voada. ‘You Turke, I haue nothing to say to you: Ha, ha, ha, poore fellow, how hee lookes since Mahomet had the handling of him? hee hath had a sore night at Whose that Knockes at the backe-doore?’.[37] At the same time, Franceschina suggests that the suspicions of ‘low’ or ‘base’ sexuality attached to religious and racial difference are reflected in the economic value of such activity: her reward will be the insubstantial sum of ‘twopence’.

    §19  Franceschina departs from her comic predecessor, Bellafront, then, not only in her invocation of a specific monetary value but in her radical separation of body and soul. Where Bellafront begs for the salvation of her soul, Franceschina’s words distance her from her own wilful body. This distinction returns us to Freevill’s early defence of prostitution: ‘They sell their bodies; do not better persons sell their souls?’ (1.1.124). Freevill’s formula recalls the play’s larger debt to Montaigne’s meditation on love, sex, and marriage, ‘Vpon some verses of Virgill’. Montaigne argues that Prostitutes ‘sell but their bodyes, their willes cannot be put to sale; that is too free, and too much it’s owne’.[38] Franceschina complicates this divide between will and bodily action, emphasising the physicality and the bodily practices which conjoined religious and sexual change in the early modern English imagination. Yet the Montaignean context undermines this separation: in ‘Vpon some verses’ Montaigne is ventriloquising Italians who, he claims, ‘are passionate and languishing suitors to very common and mercenarie women’. Such men claim that the real victory comes in gaining the courtesan’s will, and not simply her body, and Montaigne agrees: ‘It is the will one must serue and most solicite’. In the context of Marston’s play, Freevill’s own ‘free will’ seems to have been successfully deployed in securing Franceschina’s desire, a victory which not only undermines his claim to have given her ‘line at will’ to entrap herself (5.3.47) but also transforms Franceschina’s line ‘For me am worse than hanged; me ha’ lost my will’ from a bitter expression of personal disappointment to a revealing lament that in gaining her ‘will’ alongside her body, Freevill has left her without that most central part of herself.

    §20 The violence of Freevill’s castigation of Franceschina, and her resulting punishment, has been frequently noted; in a language of rigidly Calvinist judgement he calls her ‘unreprievable, beyond all / Measure of grace damned immediately!’ (5.1.60-61), and, drawing again on Montaigne, laments ‘That things of beauty created for sweet use, … Custom [habit or practice, contrary to the rule of nature] should make so unutterably hellish!’ (5.1.62-64).[39] Freevill also terms Franceschina ‘thou comely damnation’ (5.3.48), engaging in the popular rhetorical device of using oxymoron to describe women’s tempting, but morally dangerous, attractions.[40] Mixing two contraries for rhetorical effect, Freevill suggests the mutual dependence of binary terms, even as he attempts to impose absolute division upon the moral landscape of the play. Elsewhere, however, it is Freevill who offers the fleeting insight that the stark binaries that divide apostle from apostate, sexual purity from sexual degradation, are untenable in practice. Cocledemoy may lambast Mulligrub as a mixer of categories, ‘my gouty, spigot-friging, jumbler of elements’ (3.2.31-32) and as a ‘a great jumbler’ (5.3.110), yet, it seems, the play, riven as it is with the tensions of a changeable cityscape, the inconstancy of love and lust, and the transformations of religious belief, also recognises the necessary co-existence, and indeed commingling, of different types: ‘No, not pure’, Freevill reflects, considering his own motives:

                Nothing extremely best with us endures.
    No use in simple purities; the elements
    Are mixed for use. Silver without alloy
    Is all too eager to be wrought for use:
    Nor precise virtues, ever purely good,
    Holds useful size with temper of weak blood.
    (3.3.39-45)

    Here, at the hinge or crux of Marston’s play, Freevill, recently converted to the pleasures of lawful marriage, calls to view, albeit briefly, the untenability of absolute purity, whether material or spiritual, and offers instead a tentative – and short-lived – recognition that the unseemly and jumbled elements of a multicultural, multifaith city are necessary to its vibrancy: like the elements, they ‘are mixed for use’.

    Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

    1. 1) All quotes are taken from John Marston, The Dutch Courtesan, ed. David Crane (London: A&C Black, 1997).
    2. 2) See, for example, Charles Cathcart, Marston, Rivalry, Rapprochement and Jonson (Farnham: Ashgate, 2008), esp. chapters 6 and 7, and Marjorie Rubright, ‘Going Dutch in London City Comedy: Economies of Sexual and Sacred Exchange in John Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan (1605), English Literary Renaissance, 40 (2010), 88-112.
    3. 3) Christopher W. Marsh, The Family of Love in English Society, 1550-1630 (Cambridge University Press, 1994), 213.
    4. 4) James Knowles, ‘Marston, John (bap. 1576, d. 1634)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/18164]. John Davies recorded Marston’s change of life in his 217th epigram, ‘To ingenious Mr. Iohn Marston.’:

      THy Male-content, or, Male-contentednesse.
      Hath made thee change thy Muse as some do gesse:
      If Time mispent, made her a Male-content;
      Thou needst not then her timely change repent.
      The end will shew it: meanewhile do but please
      With vertuous paines, as erst thou didst with ease:
      Thou shalt be prais’d; and kept from want and wo;
      So, blest are Crosses, that do blesse vs so.

      (The scourge of folly (London: Edward Allde for Richard Redmer, 1611), H5r.)

    5. 5) John Heywood, A fourth hundred of epygrams (London: Thomas Berthelet, 1560), B5r.
    6. 6) Molly Murray, The Poetics of Conversion in Early Modern English Literature: Verse and Change from Donne to Dryden (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 21, 13. For a history of conversion and its motives in this period see Michael Questier, Conversion, Politics and Religion in England, 1580-1625 (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
    7. 7) CSPVen 1617-1619, p. 287. See Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: the Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 7.
    8. 8) Marston, The scourge of villanie Three bookes of satyres (London: James Roberts for John Busbie, 1598), D1r.
    9. 9) George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and John Marston, Eastward hoe (London: George Eld for William Aspley, 1605), H3v.
    10. 10) John Rogers, The glory and happiness of a true Christian (London: William Jones for Thomas Pavier, 1618), C2v; John Taylor, A brown dozen of drunkards: (ali-ass drink-hards) whipt, and shipt to the Isle of Gulls: for their abusing of Mr. Malt the bearded son, and Barley-broth the brainlesse daughter of Sir John Barley-corne All joco-seriously descanted to our wine-drunk, wrath-drunk, zeale-drunk, staggering times. By one that hath drunk at S. Patricks well (London: by Robert Austin, 1648).
    11. 11) Douglas Bruster, Drama and the Market in the Age of Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press, 1992), 89.
    12. 12) Thomas Dekker, The seuen deadly sinnes of London (London: Edward Allde and Simon Stafford for Nathaniel Butter, 1606), B2v.
    13. 13) On the cultural resonances of both tobacco and perfume, see Holly Dugan, The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
    14. 14) Natasha Korda, Labors Lost: Women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage (Philadelphia: University of Pennslyvania Press, 2011), 95.
    15. 15) See for example, Rubright’s assertion that ‘both abroad and at home, the Dutch prostitute was a familiar and long-standing figure in the English sexual economy and cultural landscape’ (‘Going Dutch’, 97).
    16. 16) Theatre companies were, of course, frequent patrons of London’s wig-makers, using perukes and false beards to transform boy actors into both widows and grown men. See Will Fisher, Materializing Gender in English Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2006), esp. chapter 3.
    17. 17) Korda, Labors Lost, 117.
    18. 18) Korda further notes that the Return of Aliens for London record which church immigrants attended: a response to complaints that Dutch men and women had come to London in search of economic advantage rather than religious freedom (Labors Lost, 101).
    19. 19) Henoch Clapham, Errour on the right hand, through a preposterous zeale Acted by way of dialogue. Betweene 1 Mal-content and Flyer. 2 Flyer and Anabaptist. 3 Anabaptist, & Legatine-arrian. 4 Flyer and Legatine-arrian. 5 Flier, Legaine-arria[n] & Familist. 6 Flyer and Familist. 7 Flyer and Mediocritie. (London: William White, sold by Samuel Moseley, 1608).
    20. 20) The Anglo-Ottoman relationship has been the subject of a range of recent historical and critical writing; see, for example, Matthew Dimmock, New Turkes: Dramatizing Islam and the Ottomans in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).
    21. 21) Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain, 1558-1685 (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 3.
    22. 22) Giles Fletcher, The policy of the Turkish Empire (London: John Windet for William Stansby, 1597), A3v; cited in Daniel Vitkus, Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 7.
    23. 23) William Biddulph, The trauels of certaine Englishmen into Africa, Asia, Troy, Bythinia, Thracia, and to the Blacke Sea…. Very profitable to the help of trauellers, and no lesse delightfull to all persons who take pleasure to heare of the manners, gouernement, religion, and customes of forraine and heathen countries (London: Thomas Haviland for William Aspley, 1609), F2r.
    24. 24) Fletcher, The policy of the Turkish Empire, F4r.
    25. 25) Matar, Islam in Britain, 19.
    26. 26) A geographical historie of Africa, written in Arabicke and Italian by Iohn Leo a More, borne in Granada, and brought vp in Barbarie (London: [Eliot’s Court Press], 1600). For a speculative account of Africanus’s life and travels, see Natalie Zemon Davis, Trickster Travels: a Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds (London: Faber, 2006).
    27. 27) The generall historie of the Turkes, from The first beginning of that Nation to the rising of the Othoman Familie: with all the notable expeditions of the Christian Princes against them (London: Adam Islip, 1603).
    28. 28) See also Claire Jowitt, ‘Elizabeth amongst the pirates: gender and piracy in Thomas Heywood’s Fair Maid of the West, part 1’, in Charles Beem (ed.), The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 125-44. Jonathan Burton counts ‘over sixty dramatic works featuring Islamic themes, characters, or settings’ between 1570 and 1624, alongside numerous other plays which feature passing allusions or references to Islam or ‘the Turk’ (Traffic and Turning: Islam and English Drama, 1579-1624 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005), 11. Other pre-1605 plays showing ‘Turkish’ cruelty include Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Parts I and II (1587-88) and The Jew of Malta (1589), George Peele’s Battle of Alcazar (1588) and Soliman and Perseda (1590), Robert Greene’s Alphonsus, King of Aragon (1588) and Orlando Furioso (1589), Selimus, Emperor of the Turks (1594) (sometimes attributed to Greene), and the anonymous The Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Thomas Stukeley (1596).
    29. 29) Vitkus, Three Turk Plays, 2.
    30. 30) William Shakespeare, The tragoedy of Othello, the Moore of Venice (London: Nicholas Okes for Thomas Walkley, 1622), F1v.
    31. 31) See, for example, Dennis Austin Britton, ‘Re-“turning” Othello: Transformative and Restorative Romance’, ELH, 78 (2011), 27-50). Othello’s insistent repetition of ‘turn’ also recalls – and signals the grim success of – Iago’s earlier determination to ‘ turne her vertue into pitch, / And out of her owne goodnesse make the net / That shall enmesh em all:’ (F3v).
    32. 32) Thomas Dekker, The honest whore with, the humours of the patient man, and the longing vvife (London: Valentine Simmes for John Hodgets, 1604), sig. G2v.
    33. 33) Jane Hwang Degenhardt, Islamic Conversion and Christian Resistance on the Early Modern Stage (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 15. As several of Degenhardt’s sources make clear, such a connection was far from being unique to the stage; it is repeated in pamphlets, polemic, ballads, and numerous other genres and modes.
    34. 34) See Degenhardt, Islamic Conversion, especially chapter 3.
    35. 35) William Shakespeare, Much adoe about nothing (London: Valentine Simmes for Andrew Wise and William Aspley, 1600), F2r.
    36. 36) Gerald MacLean and Nabil Matar, Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713 (Oxford University Press, 2011), 98.
    37. 37) Robert Daborne, A Christian turn’d Turke: or, The tragical liues and deaths of the two famous pyrates, Ward and Dansiker (London: William Barrenger, 1612), G2v-G3r
    38. 38) Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. John Florio (London: Melchisedek Bradwood for Edward Blount and William Barret, 1613), Yy2r.
    39. 39) On Marston’s debt to Montaigne’s essay ‘Of Custom’, see especially William Hamlin, ‘Common Customers in Marston’s Dutch Courtesan and Florio’s Montainge’, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 52 (21012), 407-24.
    40. 40) Thomas Gainsford, for example, describes a woman as ‘a stinking rose, a pleasing euill, the mouse-trap of a mans soule’ The rich cabinet furnished with varietie of excellent discriptions (London: John Beale for Roger Jackson, 1616), Y2v.